Vinyl Maintenance Tips
Published on February 16, 2022
How to keep your Sea Ray looking sharp
Caring for marine vinyl on your Sea Ray boat is important but it doesn’t have to be hard. Follow these easy boat cleaning tips and keep your vinyl free of sunscreen, food, drinks, leaf and grass stains, ink marks and magazine or newspaper “printing”. With regular care, your marine vinyl will last for years and keep your boat looking new.
Marine vinyl care is primarily about thorough and consistent cleaning. Wash seats and sun pads regularly with a mild soap and water. Be sure to rinse any salt off after each outing and use a soft cloth to remove dirt, sunscreen and sweat. For tight areas or stitching, use an old toothbrush to loosen dirt.
Dry your vinyl thoroughly and don’t rely on simple air drying because moisture can get trapped near piping or in the sewing thread. Moisture leads to mildew which both discolors vinyl and makes it smell. Professional mildew removers are available and are specially formulated for marine use so check for manufacturers recommendations.
For tough stains or “pinking”, use a soft bristle brush and a marine vinyl cleaner – there are many on the market. For ink marks, use sunscreen but then remember to clean that off with soap and water.
Don’t use household cleaners like 409, Goo B Gone or window cleaner with ammonia. These products may clean, but they’ll also strip marine vinyl of its UV inhibitor properties. Don’t be tempted to use degreasers (that can clog the vinyl’s pores so it doesn’t breathe or ventilate the cushion material inside) or gasoline (which will clean just about anything but will damage the protective coating). Never use bleach or a power washer.
Once your vinyl is clean, protect it with a sealant. Mildew treatments can be sealants but remember that this process isn’t a one-and-done proposition so set a regular maintenance schedule to renew the application of these protectants. Sealants and conditioners also help protect seats from drying out and cracking, especially in exceptionally dry climates. Don’t use automotive vinyl treatments with silicone which can break down key marine vinyl properties.
Two easy ways to protect vinyl is to keep it covered and well ventilated. Guarding against UV damage can be a simple as having a cover that you put on any time your Sea Ray isn’t in use. Ventilation during storage is critical to minimizing mildew.
Small tears or rips may be repaired with a DIY kit. Buy one that has a base compound to match the color of your seats. Clean and dry the surface and use the applicator to add the repair compound over the damaged area. Let it cure and then smooth it with high-grit sandpaper or follow the directions in your kit.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing a repair yourself, reach out to a boatyard or your Sea Ray dealer for professional care or replacement.
It just takes a bit of time to learn how to clean vinyl and care for it long term, but it’s a vital part of fiberglass boat maintenance and regular effort will save you time and money.